Thursday, January 12th 2017 at 9:27AM GMT
The government has announced plans to bury the “road to the sun” – or, less prosaically, the A303 – in a bored 1.8 mile tunnel, bypassing Stonehenge. This could see the megalith-dotted landscape returned to chalkland pasture and improve amenities for cyclists and pedestrians, who currently find it almost impossible to use the perpetually busy A303. However, the planned scheme is controversial and campaign groups believe the tunnel will not solve congestion and would, in fact, increase car dependence.
Archeologists and conservationists believe only a tunnel of more than 2.7 miles in length will preserve the World Heritage Site’s ritual landscape. Since 1991, fifty-one “road improvement” proposals have been considered for the A303. The tunnel scheme was first proposed in 1994, and thrown out two years later as too costly. It reappeared in the government’s 2006 Road Programme, and withdrawn the following year. The government reintroduced putative plans for a Stonehenge tunnel in 2014, and earlier today started a three-month consultation process.
Instead of majoring on the potential for improved views over Stonehenge, the Department for Transport’s announcement of the consultation phase stressed the plans were “part of roads package to cut congestion in the south-west.”